Our team

We're a small organisation with a big mission - to help children and nature thrive together. To make sure we do the best job we can, we have a growing team of experts in arboriculture, horticulture, forest schooling and early years education. Our amazing volunteers bring a wealth of skills and enthusiasm - and we welcome anyone who would like to get involved.

Anna Parkin
Director & Co-founder

Anna is the woman behind the idea of Kids Plant Trees and oversees the majority of our Green School and Green Community projects. A mum of three, she is also a trained journalist and editor, and an experienced content strategist with many years’ delivering comms and campaigns for brands and organisations. She helped set up the Nature Recovery Sheffield network with organisations including Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

Anna says: “Kids Plant Trees is more than a passion project for me. Taking action for nature and climate helps quieten my anxiety. I want my kids to see I’m doing everything I can to look after this wonderful planet of ours. And I want more kids to have a say on the green spaces where they live and play, like at school or in their local park. If we give children more opportunities to create and care for nature in their area, I believe they will want to look after it for years to come too.” 

Favourite tree: “Am I allowed to say fruit trees? Anything that provides tasty things to eat is top of the tree for me!”

Steph Mullen
Director & Co-founder

Steph manages much of the organisational and business development aspects of KPT, as well as some of our Green School and Green Community projects. She is a mum of two and also works as a sustainability consultant, helping businesses to improve their impact on the planet and people, and as an associate for The Environmental Quality Mark CIC. She was the first treasurer of SCESY and played a key role in organising their inaugural schools’ climate conference.

Steph says: “As soon as Anna told me her idea to get kids outside planting trees, I was excited to be involved. It feels good to do something practical that has such a direct positive impact on children and wildlife. It’s evolved quite organically and we’re still in the early days, but we’ve achieved so much already in quite a short time. Now we’re building a great team around us, I feel like the possibilities are endless.”

Favourite tree: “Weeping Willow. Such a beautiful tree. I can’t help but reach up to the hanging leaves every time I walk under one.”

Rachael Smith
Non-exec Director & Co-founder

Rachael is a yoga teacher and a mother to two young daughters, with over 20 years experience in health and well-being. She describes herself as an eco feminist with an interest in the feminine relationship with nature and how and why this has changed overtime. As a non-executive director, Rachael has a vital role in advising on our big picture thinking and keeping us aligned with our core purpose. She also represents Kids Plant Trees by speaking at various events.

Rachael says: “Having a meaningful relationship with nature is essential for our physical and emotional well-being. Western lifestyles put many barriers between a child and nature and so this relationship must be nurtured. Children need the benefits of nature now more than ever. And we need our children to fall in love with the wild so that they grow up with a desire to protect it.” 

Favourite tree: “Goat willow. I love the hum of bees around the catkins in spring and watching them crawl into cracks in the bark to rest overnight.”

Tim Shortland
Tree Expert

Tim is a fountain of knowledge about trees, with over 30 years experience in community forestry, working with councils, schools, community groups and other organisations. As well as facilitating tree planting events, he advises on all our projects to make sure we plant the right tree in the right place (and sometimes it’s not a tree).

Tim says: “I’ve planted trees over many years and have found that involving children can provide them with a practical and fun introduction to nature and the world around them. Working with Kids Plant Trees gives me opportunities to engage young people and help them begin their own journey to explore and improve their environment.”

Favourite tree: “Field Maple. An amazing and often overlooked tree, and our only native British maple. While it usually blends in with other trees, for two to three weeks in autumn it turns a magnificent bright yellow and positively glows!”

Caroline Lilley

Caroline has been volunteering with us since we got started and is our social media guru. She’s from Sheffield and has two daughters. Her ‘day job’ is in content marketing and when she’s not working she loves nothing more than being outdoors with her family. 

Caroline says: “When I heard about Kids Plant Trees I was keen to get involved to use my skills in marketing to support them in spreading the word about the organisation, bringing together a community of kids and their grown ups to learn about nature and spend more time in it.”

Favourite tree: “Japanese Maple (Acer). We have one in our garden that has the most beautiful coral leaves - they only come out for about 3 weeks a year but it's my favourite thing in the garden!”

Annie Russell

Annie is a gardener specialising in low input, organic gardening that benefits wildlife. She has been involved with our community and school projects from the beginning and is an invaluable member of our team of experts. 

Annie says: “I got involved with Kids Plant Trees as a way of doing something positive to address my climate concerns, and of enabling more children to enjoy nature. I love planting and mulching trees with kids - it's so lovely to see how involved they get and how much they get out of it.”

Favourite tree: “Probably oak or silver birch.”

Helen Wilson
Early Years & Forest School Practitioner

Helen runs Little Puddle People and is passionate about inspiring families to spend more time outside - connecting with nature, being adventurous and seeking awe and wonder in the world around them. She has been instrumental in developing our Green School programme, drawing from her vast knowledge and experience of Forest School settings, early years education and special educational needs.

Helen says: “I love working with Kids Plant Trees - it gets me working with a diverse range of children. Seeing their excitement and passion ignite, with them all totally immersing themselves into the experience, is really something special. The work feels meaningful, powerful and significant in creating a wave of change amongst our children.”

Favourite tree: “Cherry. I love the smooth, shiny bark, eye-catching blossom in spring, delicious cherries dangling from branches in summer and stunning red leaves in autumn."

May MacNair

May has been volunteering with us since January 2022, helping out at a number of tree planting events. As a primary school classroom and French teacher, she also helps with insights and advice as we develop our services for schools.

May says: “I first started helping out because I really wanted my children to see the importance of actively doing something to help our planet. I’ve since developed a nature area at the school where I work, with KPT’s support, and hope to work on many more projects in the future. I think Kids Plant Trees are a fantastic organisation that are doing something very unique in Sheffield and I can't wait to see them grow.”

Favourite tree: “Hazel (my niece's name!)”

Phil Parkin

Phil (Anna’s husband!) runs a social media and video marketing agency in Sheffield. He’s helped us with many things from sorting web domains, to graphic design and marketing. He also helps with business planning and corporate sponsorship.

Phil says: “I love what Kids Plant Trees stand for - getting more kids outside, doing something positive for nature and wildlife. I love to see our own kids planting trees and supporting their mummy in this great social venture. I think it has potential to improve green spaces at schools and communities across the region and I'd love to see more businesses helping Kids Plant Trees to make this happen.”

Favourite tree: “It has to be the apple tree at the bottom of our garden. It produces the biggest apples I’ve ever seen! I also love to watch the kids climbing it, reminds me of climbing trees when I was young.”

Laura Vear

Laura is an organic gardener, who promotes a love of plants and healthy balance of biodiversity in gardens and elsewhere. Her first memory of gardening is with her grandma who taught her how to remove the side shoots from tomato plants and grow cuttings...and this love of seeing plants and life grow has followed her since. Laura has worked with us on a variety of projects, giving us planting and organic gardening support and advice. 

Laura says: “It has been so great to see organic horticultural practice being used and people feeling confident to garden alongside nature. I especially love that Kids Plant Trees are about community and sharing the love and joy of plants and trees for everyone! They support people to access the benefits of nature and nurture that early love of seeing plants grow, and I think this is just wonderful. 

Favourite tree: “Scots Pine. They are huge and have a beautiful statuesque quality, and in the warmth of spring the pinecones make a lovely popping sound as the seeds burst open!”

Joel Gilbert

Joel is a cover primary school teacher in Sheffield and Rotherham, a researcher for sustainable transport in Manchester and previously helped to run the Abbeydale Street Trees project. He joined our team of volunteers in early 2023, helping us with our community and school projects both behind the scenes and at our tree planting events.

Joel says: “I have a very big interest in nature and the environment, and am very excited to be working with Kids Plant Trees. We are becoming ever more removed from the natural world, so having something like KPT is fantastic in helping us to reconnect with our 'wild' selves.”

Favourite tree: “Black poplar. Twisted and gnarly, with a beautiful rustle in the breeze. This tree once used to be widespread across Britain's landscape in marshes and bogs. There are now only 7,000 wild ones left in this country, and only 600 of these are female!”

If you would like to get involved with Kids Plant Trees as a volunteer or board member, we'd love to hear from you. We're not currently recruiting but if you'd like to receive news and updates, including job vacancies, please sign up below.

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